William B. Ewald, Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Cite as: James Wilson's Papers: Considerations on the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament, Quill Project at Pembroke College (Oxford, accessed 2023)
The following images are the first three pages of the newly-discovered manuscript of James Wilson’s Considerations on the … Legislative Authority of the British Parliament, published as a pamphlet in 1774.
The manuscript was the subject of the 2017 Salmon P. Chase lecture at the US Supreme Court, delivered by Prof. William Ewald on November 30. It will appear in 2018 in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy.
After questions of copyright and permissions have been clarified, we hope to post the entire manuscript (30pp.) with a literal transcription.
The second manuscript page contains the draft of Wilson’s preamble to the published pamphlet, and reads as follows:
All Men are naturally equal, and naturally free. No one therefore has a Right to any Authority over another without his Consent. All lawful Government then must be founded on the Consent of those who are subject to it. Such Consent was given with a View to ensure and increase the Happiness of the governed above what they could enjoy in an independant and unconnected State of Nature. It could be given only with this View; for no Man can himself devote himself to Misery: This would be to Counteract the benefecitnt [sic] Intent of his Creation, and to trample upon the first Great Law of Nature. The unavoidable Consequence of this Deduction is that the Happiness of the Society must be the fundamental Law of every Government.
The manuscript is the property of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
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